Unhealthy expectations and anxiety. These two are evil twins, pairing up to sabotage a life of freedom. It begins with false expectations – self-induced, or imposed by outside influencers I allow to nag at my thoughts – sucking me into an exhausting pursuit of being someone I was never intended to become.
The other day I heard someone calling out to “Greg.” I kept reading, but was distracted because “Greg” didn’t respond. So the person called out for “Greg” again. I stopped what I was doing, looked around for someone or something Greg-like. Then I scanned the room, seeking to identify who was trying to get Greg’s attention. I finally saw someone mouth the word “Greg” while making eye contact with me.
You may be wondering why I would even care who Greg was, why I would stop what I was doing to look around. Here’s why: I thought maybe I was Greg.
For reasons unknown to me, people have mistakenly called me “Greg” for years. I don’t know why, but it happens quite often. I guess Greg is easier for people to remember, or it is a more popular name than Gary. Maybe I don’t look like a Gary, instead bearing all the characteristics of the typical Greg. I have nothing against the name Greg, but I’m Gary. Like I said, for whatever reason the name Greg is the default name in people’s brains when the name Gary escapes them.
The only thing baffling me more than people who call me Greg is why I bother responding to the name Greg. Like I said earlier, I was distracted from my activities the other day when I heard someone calling for a Greg.
It’s not that I forget who I am, but I’ve allowed myself to believe that maybe I should also be who I was never intended to be. Little in life exhausts me more than when I attempt to live a life of Gary AND Greg.
Being Gary is enough. Or should be. In fact, I still have a lot to learn about being all the Gary that God intended for Gary to be. It would be foolish to also try to figure out how to be Greg, too, right?
That’s where the anxieties creep in. Trying to Greg my way through life in order to appease all those who are calling out for a Greg can be exhausting. I must rest in the truth that God will give me the power and energy and capacity by grace to be Gary, and that being Gary is plenty. And I must also rest knowing that God created a Greg somewhere to respond to those needs that require a Greg.
The vast majority of the time – 99% or more – people do call me Gary. But they may be asking Gary to do or be something that Gary has no business attempting. This may sound strange, but one way that I internally try to manage healthy expectations is by asking myself this question:
Does this person or circumstance require me to be Gary or Greg?
If the expectation is for me to be Greg, I then try to figure out the best way to communicate to the person in need that Greg is the ideal person to help… oh, but I’m not Greg.
There are a great number of people in need of a Greg. I gotta believe that God knew this in advance, and therefore He rolled a few extra models of Greg off the Creative Assembly Line; Gregs who are graciously empowered to meet needs in unique, Greg-like ways.
Much of the anxiety I feel is when I have been so busy Greg-ing that I don’t have the time and freedom to Gary.
For any Greg’s who may be reading this: Get ready for your phone to ring. I am gonna try to send a few people your way – those who thought I could be you. You are welcome to send those in need of a Gary my way. I feel more confident that God will give me the grace to be Gary to them better than I could ever be the Greg to those who would be blessed by community with you Greg’s.
I’ll close with these two questions:
What is your God-given name? And what is the false nickname you find yourself anxiously trying to live up to?